The Structure of a Modern Economy: The United States, 1929-1989

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One of the important sources for the increase of human knowledge is the keeping of careful records of a system over time, the study of which may reveal patterns and relationships that otherwise would not be perceived. Despite the existence of more than 60 years of national income statistics and their various components and supplements, such as unemployment and labor force figures, price levels, relative prices, etc, there has been a dismaying lag in the use of this data to detect previously unrecognized relationships among economic variables.

One of the reasons for this disturbing lack of attention to such patterns is the 18th-century celestial-mechanics type of mathematics that is generally in use. Deterministic dynamic mathematical models are often inappropriate to the structural and topological complexities of the economic system, particularly to the instability of its fundamental parameters. This intriguing new book is a step towards an interpretation of the record in terms of topological patterns represented by a variety of graphs. The type of long-run topological analysis on which this book is based reveals some striking properties of the American economy which conventional economics and econometrics have tended to miss. One of these is the relative insignificance of the Federal government, even during the period of the New Deal. Also suggested by the data are the unexpected effects of governmental action.

Preeminent economist Kenneth Boulding offers this study not only as a means of coming to a better understanding of our past and present economic systems, but also as an aid to decision-making about the future. If the decisions made in the present are based on unrealistic inferences, he maintains, then they are likely to make the future worse than it might have been.

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Editorial Reviews

One of the world's best known economists presents a case study of the US as revealed in national-income statistics and other data, and draws conclusions about the causes of unemployment, inflation as it relates to the stock of liquid assets and the budget deficit, the proportion of the population in poverty, the gap between interest and profit rates, and the relation of productivity to income. A topographical approach that detects time patterns in the economy. Accessible to general readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814712030
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1993
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author

Kenneth E. Boulding is Professor at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
1 The Structure of an Economy 1
2 Human Capital 14
3 Sizes and Proportional Structures of Total Output and Income 25
4 Money and Prices 40
5 Capital Structures 53
6 The Role of Government 70
7 The World Economic Environment 84
8 Towards Understanding and Control 96
9 What of the Future? 111
Notes and References 126
Appendix: Data Tables 129
Index 210
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